SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — American Farmland Trust released a new report today titled, Greener Fields: Combatting Climate Change by Keeping Land in Farming in New York, on the role that protecting farmland can have in reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and helping New York achieve its goal of reducing GHGs by 80 percent by 2050. The report found that an acre of farmland produces 66 times fewer GHG emissions than an acre of developed land in New York.
Roughly 5,800 acres of farmland in New York are converted to real estate development annually – the equivalent of nearly 600 typical farms. Continuing this trend of lower density real estate development and associated conversion of farmland could add another nine million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) emissions annually.
The Greener Fields report found that if the rate of farmland conversion was reduced by 80 percent by 2050, it could reduce GHG emissions equivalent to taking one million cars off the road.
“Steering new real estate development into cities and villages, and keeping productive land in farming, can play a key role in combatting climate change,” said David Haight, New York State Director for American Farmland Trust. “This report found that keeping farmland in farming is not just good for our ability to grow food and for our economy – it is another important tool for New York to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Recent studies suggest that new development pressures on farmland may increase due to climate change, as rising sea levels threaten to push New York residents further inland. If farmland is not protected, it may be at risk of being paved over by real estate development.
Greener Fields recommends protecting agricultural land while encouraging new real estate development in cities, villages and developed areas as a key strategy for New York to achieve its climate objectives. The report includes actionable steps for farmers, interested citizens, public officials, planners, land trusts, policymakers and researchers.
“Farmers can do even more to reduce emissions and strengthen resilience to severe weather by adopting soil health practices and producing renewable energy in ways compatible with farming,” Haight added.
American Farmland Trust will host a webinar sharing the findings of Greener Fields on June 6, 2017. More information about the webinar and the report can be found at www.farmland.org/
–American Farmland Trust
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